There’s always so much to talk about at the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries around black and gold are definitely evolving. Especially this week when the Steelers lost their first game of the 2020 season and both inside linebackers were unavailable against 9-3 Buffalo. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant questions beforehand. Take a look at some bold statements about this and more as we call them fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time can tell.
Avery Williamson is the ultimate X-Factor in the Steelers defense against Buffalo
After Devin Bush Jr. tore up his ACL in October, Robert Spillane’s recent knee injury against the WFT, and Vince Williams’ inclusion on Covid-19 reserve list this week, the Steelers are next to no natural insider linebackers. Sure, defenders Antoine Brooks and Marcus Allen have trained a lot on the position and will see action. Both are still very green and not sure if they are successful. Ulysses Gilbert III may return from injury, but his experience is minimal. Avery Williamson has long been a starter in this league, but he’s still new to the Steelers system. If he’s adjusted enough and his soccer instincts take over, he could save the day. But Williamson could be the most important player on the field for the Steelers defense on Sunday.
The Steelers offensive is set to get a boost with the return of James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey
The Steelers passing game is in good hands as Ben Roethlisberger throws the ball. But it’s just not the same story when it comes to the sandwich grabbers at the other end of this proposal. The return of James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey from the Covid-19 reserve list could bring the offense back from the two-week crisis of success that the unit is in. JC Hassenhauer was up and running in Pouncey’s place, but far from what they did get with the perennial pro bowler. Pouncey offers leadership and toughness. He also protects better and should open more holes to Conner and his runners. Conner is much better at protecting pass, catching the ball from the backcourt and is the best option to help the Steelers run better. The black and gold could possibly have achieved much more success if these two had competed in the last two competitions.
The Steelers will shuffle the offensive line to get Kevin Dotson on the grid
Everyone is calling on Kevin Dotson to join the Steelers offensive for the remainder of the 2020 season. Why? The Louisiana-Lafayette rookie is an excellent run blocker and did very well when David DeCastro and the recently released Stefan Wisniewski were out early. With the Steelers running game faltering lately, Dotson seems like a logical game. But to take advantage of Dotson and his talents, the Steelers would have to mix a lot of gears in the offensive line. You won’t be sitting David DeCastro. The veteran is still playing at a high level. The other option would be to move Matt Feiler from left guard to right tackle, Chuks Okorafor to tackle place held by Jerald Hawkins, and Dotson to the less familiar position of left tackle. That’s a lot of tinkering so late in the year. It could do more harm than good in the short term. With four games remaining in the regular season, this could be a dangerous game. Kevin Dotson will be a full time starter for the Steelers. However, the only way in 2020 would be an injury.
Despite the Steelers’ fall over the Dropsies, Eric Ebron and Diontae Johnson will not reduce their goals
When asked about the influx of dropped passports during his press conference on Tuesday, Mike Tomlin was very factual about the rash of hot potatoes crashing on the ground. “They can catch the ball or be replaced with those who catch it,” said the Steelers head coach. “As simple as that.” The main culprits this season were Diontae Johnson (7 drops in 2020) and Eric Ebron (5 drops). While they have been a huge contributor to the Steelers’ success this season, their struggles have been crippling for the team in recent weeks. Ray Ray McCloud, James Washington, Vance McDonald and James Conner have been safer this season and had more action in the final quarter of the season and beyond if the losses continued. Ebron and DJ18 are valuable, but they will see the chances increase if they don’t get sticky fingers in a rush.
TJ Watt won’t hit the Steelers’ sack record for one season in 2020
The all-time sack brand of all time is owned by James Harrison. Deebo dropped quarterbacks 16 times in 2008 and was named Defensive Player of the Year for the NFL that season. Number 92 only played 15 games that season and had the standout pass rusher LaMarr Woodley who caught the attention of the Blockers on the other side. Watt had the luxury of Alvin “Bud” Dupree as the other bookend on the Steelers defense, but his week 12 ACL injury against Baltimore put him out of service. Watt responded to Dupree’s loss with 2 sacks on Monday and needs to average one sack per game to hit the record. Alex Highsmith is definitely not Bud Dupree, but he wears number 56 like the Woodley mentioned above. The rookie is more than capable of being a threat to the opposing quarterback. TJ is having a fantastic year and I think he will go down in team history this season with at least a share of the crown and he could win the DPOY trophy like Harrison. Let’s just hope the comparisons continue with a Lombardi Trophy like the one Deebo enjoyed in his record-breaking campaign.
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